Notes: Michael Schwartz’ Pizza Secrets
By Claudia Potamkin
Pizza is a favored staple in Michael Schwartz' lineup and has been since the James Beard Award-winning chef opened his eponymous Miami Design District restaurant, "Michael’s Genuine” in 2007. Because he sees pizza as “everyone’s favorite food,” Schwartz gave us more of what we wanted with four Miami pizzerias – in the Design District, Coconut Grove, Downtown Dadeland and Aventura – each baking up his trademark pies. Today, there are two more on the immediate horizon -- Miami Beach and Sunrise – and with so many rave reviews, the amiable Schwartz felt it was time to give home cooks the tools and knowhow to make delicious pizzas in their own kitchens.
His second cookbook, “Genuine Pizza,” is an approachable and entertaining guide to creating delicious meals with savory pizza as the standalone main course or as part of balanced meal with a supporting cast of expertly curated salads, side dishes, even creative cocktails. Michael provides recommended menus guided by the flavors being featured in each recipe.
“The secret to good pizza is restraint,” says Schwartz.“Choose a protein or vegetable as the star and build the pizza around that. Keep it fresh, keep it simple.”
Michael gives the home cook a fast track education with a terrific tool he calls, “The Pizza Matrix;” a roadmap of interesting ingredients that work beautifully together. He presents winning combination categories including spicy and sweet or creamy and earthy, all allowing the home cook to work within this grid or to branch out and experiment. But knowing the foundations for sauces and toppings are sure-fire ways to build confidence.
Schwartz does have a cookbook pet peeve: recipes that don’t work. So he makes sure his really do. And in discussing all aspects in the process of converting his recipes into cookbook form, Schwartz is quick to laud his crackerjack team. In fact, when speaking with him about any aspect of the Genuine Hospitality Group, Schwartz credits the people around him.
Generous, genuine, approachable, and man, can he cook pizza!